I was just reading Nick Matthew's interview in skynews.com.au, "Matthew Annoyed Little Attention". The article is along the lines that professional squash players are given little publicity in what is arguably the iron man/women sport of all sports. Forget about all the other sport comparisons, these men and women are the fittest athletes on the planet. One need only compare the training regiments of Nick Matthew with any other athlete in any sport to realize what these athletes put their bodies through. I can only compare it to perhaps fencing for intensity and fitness, but unlike fencing bouts which are quick and intense, professional level squash matches can go nearly 90 minutes at a pace that is unfathomable to most.
So why is Matthew angry? First of all, I can't imagine Nick Matthew ever angry, which isn't to say he is a pushover or overly mellow. He is as fierce and competitive and tough as Mike Ditka, Larry Bird, Mike Tyson, and Pete Rose and probably has attained their level of excellence in a career that has culminated in major tournament championships. He arguably has the best forehand volley of any player in the history of the game, and while his career has seen a number of injuries, most recently toward the end of the 2011 season, he is back, and back with his usual ferocity. So why is he mad, how could he be mad at all the success he's achieved? Why is he angry at being one of the few in the hundreds of thousands of squash players to have achieved greatness, to have brushed shoulders with the gods of squash -- what anger?
If it truly is because of the lack of publicity in this video/media intensive age of ours, then I would only say he picked the wrong sport for recognition. I can only think of Vincent Van Gogh, perhaps a bit extreme example, who in his lifetime was never awarded the accolades for his brilliant and visionary paintings. I hope Mathew isn't so angry that he doesn't, like Van Gogh, go insane and cut off his ear, or worse his right hand. If you look at the paintings of Van Gogh you intuitively know this man could not have done anything else in his life, thank god he didn't. He could have done copy or commercial art or spent a lifetime rambling on some park bench somewhere in a European public garden, maybe he wouldn't have gone mad, or maybe he wouldn’t have simply been mad. I can't imagine Matthew doing anything else: tennis, soccer, cricket? Nah, he was destined to do what he does.
This great sport of squash in its own right is recognition enough, for most of us, for Matthew, I hope that his absolute brilliance in the most difficult game on the planet is reward enough, if that isn't then maybe the admiration of those who at such a different level sacrifice so much for this game we love: bodily pain after tough hits with John Gross, Haadi Ahmat, young Vedaant Kukadia (in the same evening after work). We do it because we can't imagine not doing it, and we watch in awe and are inspired by the likes of Nick Matthew who does it every day and doesn't have to go to a day job, or watch the kids or miss the train, but does what we love, not two hours if we're lucky, but every minute of his life.